Functional fitness: training for daily movements

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You don’t have to be an athlete or a workout warrior to reap the benefits of a little exercise. In fact, everyday tasks – whether climbing stairs, reaching high shelves, or retrieving keys you’ve dropped on the floor – can be made easier and safer with better mobility, strength and balance. This is where functional fitness comes in. It is a type of exercise designed to help you carry out your daily activities and keep you active for years to come.

What is Functional Fitness?

Functional fitness, or functional training, helps your muscles work together by simulating movements you might do while playing with a toddler or working in the kitchen or yard at home.

These low-impact moves are great for people of all fitness levels and can be done at home with little to no training equipment. The goal is to improve agility, balance and coordinationwhich should help you avoid injury as you face what life has in store for you.

Essentials

The key to success is movement – specifically, keeping your body ready to move in multiple ways at different levels of intensity. The exercises keep all your muscles engaged and avoid those unexpected tugging and tugging when you find yourself taking on an unexpected task. Key elements of this training include:

Agility

Agility is your body’s ability to move quickly and easily. It lets you start and stop and react to sudden changes, like chasing your adventurous little one around the yard or catching a drink falling off the counter. It helps you avoid muscle strains and other injuries when you react quickly.

Balance

This is important for the stability of your body. The exercises aim to strengthen core muscles to improve balance and posture. Like many things, balance gradually declines as we age, increasing the risk of falls and injuries.

Strength

Strength is important for many of our daily activities. He helps us open doors, get out of chairs, carry groceries and climb stairs. After 30 years, our body lose 3-5% of muscle mass every decade. Functional training can help reverse this decline, helping you build and tone muscle, increase metabolism, and improve bone density.

5 functional training exercises

There are many functional fitness moves you can add to your workout routine. Most of them can be done at home or at the gym. Examples include:

  • Rise box. Activities such as climbing stairs can be made easier with box rungs. Work on the stability of your legs, glutes, and core muscles as you climb stairs, alternating legs as you complete reps.

  • Slots. Working multiple muscles and joints at once, lunges improve balance, coordination and stability. Gardening, getting out of the car and walking the dog can be made easier by adding them to your routine. To perform a lunge, step forward or backward with one leg, being careful not to overextend the knee on your front foot beyond the ankle.

  • Spinning medicine ball throw. Medicine ball exercises can improve upper and lower body strength to make everyday activities like putting something on a shelf or opening heavy doors easier. Sitting on the floor, knees bent, twist your trunk and throw the ball to your partner. Ask them to send it back. Then switch sides.

  • Squats. Squats improve core strength, increase joint mobility, and reduce the risk of injury when lifting objects or rising from a seated position. Place your hands on your hips, place your feet forward and send your hips back while bending the knee. Next, engage your legs and glutes to return to a standing position.

  • Shoes. This classic exercise can make it easier to stow your suitcase in the overhead compartment of an airplane or pick up a toddler. You can modify push-ups by performing them on your knees or against a wall.

You can vary the intensity of these exercises to suit your fitness level and ability. Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can benefit from functional training. As with any exercise program, it’s important to be consistent with your training. Try to incorporate these exercises into your routine three to four times a week. Most people will notice improvements within a month.

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